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Strings + Fingers >> cabs, heads, and pickups

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Crockettnj, Jan 7, 2012.

  1. Crockettnj


    Sep 2, 2005
    North NJ
    Tone is far more a function of string age and type and finger technique than speakers, type of head, or pickups.

    In quantifying the unquantifiable, my call is at least 70/30 split.

  2. Duckwater


    May 10, 2010
    USA, Washington
    I think pickup placement and the amp play a big role as well, but otherwise you're spot on.
  3. DaveLutz


    Aug 24, 2011
    Highland, MI
    I definitely agree.

    When I finally recognized how much of my tone came from my technique, I was able to save a lot of money as well as gear-related frustration.
  4. I think it's true - but with a lot of caveats.

    I know I can manipulate my tone significantly using technique alone. But the difference in the overall sound that technique has changes significantly from amp to amp, cab to cab, and from bass to bass, and pickup to pickup.

    In other words, you can achieve a lot of tonal variety on one instrument through one rig - but don't underestimate the difference a different amp, pickup, bass or cabinet might have.

    For example - a palm-muted, finger-picked part on my passive Fender J sounds quite different when I use the same technique on my active StingRay 5. I have to modify my technique in order to make each sound like the other. Yes - still all fingers and technique doing the heavy lifting, but one instrument 'takes direction' better than the other, so to speak.

    Using what I just described as my example, if I know I need to be pulling off a palm-muted, finger picked part, I'll reach for my Fender because it 'likes' that technique better than my Ray - It's just easier to get "that sounds" on "that bass" - it doesn't mean I can't get "that sound" on "the other bass" - it's just easier on one - and so technique is the 'driver' - but the instrument and pups contribute (or detract) in varying degrees.

    Extending that - playing any of my basses through my 'small rig' (Acoustic B200H + Ampeg 410Hen) sounds fine - but the difference when I play them through my big rig (SVTII Pro + SVT810e) - is night and day. The amount of effort I need to put into my technique for certain things goes down on the more responsive, fuller sounding rig - again - it takes directly better requiring less effort from my technique. Technique still plays a huge role in the overall sound on either rig - but the rig makes a huge difference.

    But ultimately I agree - fingers/hands = 70% of tone. That 70% is enhanced greatly by the gear - but the difference in sound a particular technique has can vary significantly depending on pickups, amps and speakers. It's not to say that pickups, amps and speakers play a greater role - it's that their impact on your sound varies.
  5. chaosMK


    May 26, 2005
    Albuquerque, NM
    Too much hip thrust
    My estimate- 50 : 50

    I've had a similar epiphany lately. For most of my bass playing career (~15+ years) I was focused on modern prog metal and more a less perfected my tone and technique-gear relationship (a complex relationship involving breaking up/compressing vacuum tubes just right) as far as I was concerned.

    For the last months my only project has been helping my friend with a hip hop oriented project and found out my amp settings for metal worked fine if I just played smooth and toned down the controls on my bass.

    I was recording some proggy stuff lately and couldn't get my old tone! The midrange just wasn't there. I was considering trading around some gear (which was ridic since I was only using DI on the same model of head I owned before), retube... something, and getting desperate.

    Then I remembered how I used to play, which was hard as f---. To get my flavor of midrange out of my rig, I really have to pull it out of the instrument. Here are some examples... both are DI, not mixed. Tones are evident in the first :20 sec.

    Exhibit A - Smooth tone (gentle attacks, bass/mids boosted on bass, Sansamp in front)

    Rap-Hop Demo Track by dr_thunda on SoundCloud - Create, record and share your sounds for free

    Exhibit B - Rounded metal tone (same amp/gear settings but aggressive attacks/slaps, bass set close to flat, Sansamp in FX loop)

    Thundar - Adam Jones / Frusciante on Crack Solo by dr_thunda on SoundCloud - Create, record and share your sounds for free
  6. leitmo


    Mar 30, 2011
    10% gear
    90% technique+feel comfortable

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